Jordan introduces new laws to tackle the growth of cyber crime

Dana Abduljaleel of Al Tamimi & Company analyses the Jordanian Information Systems Crimes Law 2010

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Jordan introduces new laws to tackle the growth of cyber crime Dana Abduljaleel takes a close look at Jordan's new cyber crime law.
By  Dana Abduljaleel Published  November 15, 2010

The growth and dissemination of cyber-related technological advancements in recent years have risen to such an extent that such technologies have come to underpin the very fabric of our everyday life. They underline most modern-day industries and trade; they have a tangible affect on issues of national security; and they have revolutionized our most basic means of communication.

However, as such advancements continue to grow so does it become more difficult to properly detect and prosecute crimes committed via cyber means. Recognizing such a need, the Jordanian Council of Ministers approved the passing of the Information Systems Crimes Law (Temporary Law) No.30 of 2010 (hereafter referred to as 'the Law') on the 29th of August 2010, and which has come into force on the 16th of October 2010.

Before exploring the substantive provisions of the Law, three points are worth mentioning. Firstly, the Law provides that any person who intentionally aids, abets or incites another to commit any of the crimes stipulated in the Law is equally punishable under the same conditions and for the same term as the principal perpetrator (Art.13). Moreover, Art.15 provides that in the event that a person repeats any of the crimes stipulated in the Law, the penalty imposed is multiplied. Finally, Art.14 ensures that offenders are not able to escape liability by utilizing new advancements in technology by making clear that any crime punishable under any other act would be equally punishable under the same conditions and for the same term, even if committed via cyber means.

As regards the substantive changes, the Law provides for the criminalization of a variety of cyber related crimes. To begin with, it provides that anyone who uses or sets up an information system or network for the purpose of facilitating terrorist activities, or for contacting with a group undertaking terrorist activities, or for financing their projects, or for promoting their ideas shall be punished by a term of imprisonment including hard labor. Moreover, the law provides that anyone who intentionally enters into a website or information system, and without the proper permits, to access data not available to the public and relating to matters of national security, foreign relations, public safety, or to the national economy shall be punished by a term of imprisonment and a fine. The punishment is increased to a term of imprisonment including hard labor and a higher fine, if the entry was made with the intent to copy, transfer, alter, damage, or abolish any such data or information.

The Law further provides a legal base for dealing with a variety of credit card and electronic banking scams. As such, it provides the punishments imposed on anyone who illegally obtains information about credit cards or financial transactions without just cause, and/or uses the same to obtain a benefit for himself or for another. Moreover, the Law provides that anyone who intentionally enters into a website or information system and without the proper permits shall be punished by a fine and/or imprisonment. The penalty is increased with regards to any entry made (whether legally or illegally) with the intent to copy, delete, or in any other way alter the website itself, or any information/data it contains; or if the entry was made with the intent to impersonate the website's owner. Finally, the Law provides that anyone who intentionally, and without just cause, captures intercepts or eavesdrops on any data or information sent through the web or any other information system shall be punished by a fine and/or imprisonment. It should be noted that the penalty is doubled for any person who commits any of the aforementioned crimes during his line of work, or as a result of any information he became privy to as a result of his work.

In addition to the abovementioned crimes, the Law further deals with issues relating to online prostitution, child pornography and the exploitation of mentally/emotionally disabled persons. It defines the penalties imposed on anyone who publishes/sends via cyber means any written, oral or visual work containing pornographic material relating to minors, as well as the punishment for using or promoting any pornographic work for the purpose of affecting minors and/or mentally/emotionally disabled persons, as well as for exploiting the same in online prostitution or pornography.

Finally, it should be mentioned that in recognition of the difficulties inherent in prosecuting such cyber crimes, the Law has granted both law enforcement personnel and the relevant courts the right to issue and enforce a range of precautionary measures; including but not limited to the right to search suspected premises, the right to confiscate suspected materials, equipment and/or monies, and the right to retain any information and data concerning the perpetuation of these crimes (Art.12). During the drafting process, there was a marked fear that the powers granted to such law enforcement agencies might be misconstrued or even abused. As a result, the Law imposes a number of safeguards on such persons in the execution of their duties, such as the need to obtain the proper warrants and to keep a record of any such acts. Moreover, the Law provides that the exercise of any of the aforementioned powers should always be carried out with deference to any other legislation in force, to the rights of the accused, and particularly to the rights of any innocent third parties.

The introduction of the Information Systems Crimes Law 2010 was a necessary step in ensuring that our laws are well equipped to deal with new technological advancements and the subsequent crimes that spring up as a result.

However, given that cyber technologies are an ever-growing, ever-changing field, it is likely that further amendments to the Law will need to be introduced to ensure that the Law remains capable of dealing with all related contingencies.

Dana Abduljaleel is a lawyer in the Dispute Resolution practice of the Jordan Office of Al Tamimi & Company.

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